The Art Of James Patrick Golf
By Stephen Zinger
If you have been to any PGA Tour event and looked closely into the bags of touring professionals, you’ll find a significant amount of customization as well as personalization. This is especially apparent in the scoring clubs, the wedges.
Among touring professionals you’ll find varied loft configurations, finishes, grinds, bounce angle, swing weight, stampings, paint-fill, and so on. A great deal of time, effort and energy goes into the design of these critical components of a player’s arsenal. The game plan with the wedges can change for tour players depending on the turf, bunkering, rough, or countless other factors they encounter on a weekly basis. Aside from limited finish, loft, bounce, and grind options, tour level customization is not readily available from most of the major equipment manufactures for the average consumer.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, James Patrick Golf provides the same tour level personalization and customization offered to the best players in the world plus a little extra. Actually, a lot extra. In fact, the wedges produced by James Patrick Golf look as though they belong in a museum of modern art. JP wedges are arguably some of the most beautiful pieces of golf equipment produced that eloquently combine science and art. James Patrick Harrington, the owner/founder of James Patrick Golf built his business around three foundational principals: Quality, Performance, and Aesthetics. Harrington explains,
“James Patrick Golf is a foundation of Quality, Performance, and Aesthetics …always in that order. You cannot achieve the ultimate in performance if the quality isnt there from the beginning. If you start with Quality, you then can build ultimate performance into it. As an artist, Aesthetics are the icing on the cake. I want you to have something in your hands that is a functional piece of Art. Quality first, followed by Performance, and then finally polished with Aesthetics.”
Harrington started his professional career while attending the Professional Golf Management program at Arizona State University. He began perfecting his craft working in custom club-making studios in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he started by modifying existing manufacture’s product:
“I started out creating my own twist on a household name brand and then stamping my signature on it, ‘JP.’ It started with some heel and toe relief allowing the wedge to become more versatile. When material was ground from the wedge, it lost weight. I needed to replace that weight and rather that using tip weights in the hosel of the wedge or lead tape on the back tungsten was inlaid into the carbon steel. Tungsten is about twice as heavy as carbon steel, which brought the weight back behind the ball. This process also allows the manipulation of the center of gravity (CG) while giving it an aesthetic appeal.”
Harrington set out on a journey to design and create his own line of custom wedges establishing a home base in Minneapolis. His mission was simple; to create the finest forged wedges in the game. In January 2010, the first JP branded wedge hit the grind wheel and JP Wedges were born. Harrington begins with what he describes as “the finest forgings in the world” from the Kyoei Forging House in Ichikawa, Japan. The JP Kyoei wedge blanks arrive heavy which provides the perfect canvas for Harrington to create a custom wedge tailored to the individual customer as a functional piece of art.
In an effort to maximize versatility around the greens, Harrington grinds a significant amount of steel from the heel and toe areas of the wedge. JP Wedges incorporate a “thinned out” hosel as well to penetrate thick rough and heavy sand. To compensate for the loss of head weight as a result of the aggressive grind, Harrington inlays tungsten into the toe area of the wedge. This process gets the wedge to the desired weight while moving the CG toward the center of the clubface, which also reduces vibration. Other wedge companies manufacture their heads with the center of gravity located toward the heel, which Harrington believes, is less than optimal. This process yields a perfectly balanced wedge with the most efficient energy transfer into the ball at impact for more consistent shot making.
Another signature of Harrington’s wedge designs are the unique finishes, stamping, and paint-fill. The finishes of the wedges are offered in a raw or plated finish. Raw finishes, susceptible to oxidation through moisture will develop a patina over time. The use of carbon steel permits Harrington to apply unique finishing techniques adding to the aesthetic appeal. For the player who does not prefer their wedge to tarnish or rust over time, JP wedges are offered in plated finishes such as chrome or PVD.
“JP wedges can be blackened through a black oxide or bluing treatment and torched using heat. A torching also creates unique colors from a toasted bronze, purple, blue, to graphite in color. These treatments are not as durable as a Plating and do wear through use. Torched finishes add a nice appearance to your wedge as it ages into a vintage look through the oxidation process.”
To further personalization, Harrington offers the art of custom hand stamping on the wedge providing the customer with the ability to own a wedge with positive meaning specific to them. Harrington will hand-stamp a player’s initials, names of their children, use paint-fill from your Alma Mater, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Harrington estimates the duration to design and complete one wedge can take up to eight hours. This process is void of a large-scale factory or assembly line process. Each wedge is handmade, one at a time, by one individual. This attention to detail comes at a premium as his custom wedges start at $299. However, this level of customization and personalized service cannot be found at your local golf retailer. A phone call to James Patrick Golf means you’ll be discussing your custom wedge design with the man that will be doing all of the work. At the same time, you’ll feel like the most important customer he’s had all year.